History of the formation of the Battlefields Society

Y Wellingtonias


Bryn Glas the Wellingtonias


LATE IN APRIL 2006, the land on the PILLETH ESTATE in Radnorshire, was placed in the hands of an agent, for sale by tender to the highest bidder - and the alarm bells rang.

Lot 5 of the sale included Bryn Glâs - the site of the great victory of Owain Glyndwr on 22nd June 1402 - the site of one of the most important battles in our history.

Adrian Jones, John “the Rocks” Davies and Albert Ward, called a public meeting in the Castle Hotel, Llandeilo on 4th May, 2006 to discuss what should be done about a potential threat to our national heritage.

In the great tradition of our nation, those present at the meeting agreed to form themselves into a ‘Save Bryn Glas Society’ and a committee was formed, with an agreed constitution, and it was decided to write to Wales’ celebrities, financial leaders and philanthropists to seek their help in raising funds to purchase the site. There was a very short time in order to achieve the goal - the bid had to be with the agent before 12 June a period of only 7 weeks.

The sale and the attempt to rescue the site for the nation stimulated a great deal of interest in the media and those who are interested in preserving and promoting our heritage. BBC TV and radio interviews in both languages were broadcast and added impetus to the cause.

We needed to raise an amount in the vicinity of £400,000, and in a short time, from the campaign, we were promised a total of £6,500.00 in varying amounts up to £1,000.

Initially we had two benefactors who signalled their desire to buy the Battlefield land privately, thus giving the Society time to raise the full amount with which to later repay them and thereby hand the land over to a management trust to preserve it for the nation. As the deadline approached, however, it soon became clear that the benefactors had not been able to make a bid by the 12 June, in time to avoid taking part in the open competition.

To this day we do not know who these benefactors were, but we were all convinced that their offer was real and in good faith.

In the event, the land was bought by a neighbouring landowner, and the existing management regime on the site is unchanged - the existing tenant farmer is still grazing his sheep on the field and the public still has full access to the site with the owner’s kind permission. The best result has emerged after the excitement, but what of the society?

All was not lost - the campaign stimulated a number of societies in the Welsh History Forum to choose ‘Bryn Glas’ as the theme for their National Eisteddfod Exhibition on the Forum stand at the Abertawe Eisteddfod - and the Society still exists.

On the 23 October 2006, the Save Bryn Glas Society reconvened at the Castle Hotel in Llandeilo and was presented with the choice of disbanding or re-forming. There are at least 97 other recorded battle sites in Wales which were responsible for major changes in the course of our history. The number of such sites which are commemorated with a monument can be counted on one hand. Not even the famous battlefield of Coed Llathen or the field on which “The Flower of the Welsh Army” were killed at Builth, are marked.

Scotland and England have their own ‘Battlefield Trusts’ and are both eager that we in Wales should also have a trust dedicated to the remembrance of our battlefields. There are a number of individuals and groups here who are interested in the commemoration of our great battle sites, but there is as yet no Welsh Battlefield Trust.

Thus, on 23 October, those of us who were present decided to form the nucleus of such a national trust for the preservation and commemoration of our own battlefields and would be pleased to join with others to bring this about. Those who would like to join us would perhaps like to contact Sian Maredudd, the existing secretary through the author - John H. Davies.